AI News, Get Back to Work: Amazon and Airbus Want Your Robots

Get Back to Work: Amazon and Airbus Want Your Robots

All the details are still being planned out, but that doesn’t meant that you can’t get started: the essential components of object recognition, pose estimation, grasp planning, compliant manipulation, motion planning, task planning, task execution, error detection, and recovery are common to both the 2015 challenge and pretty much every other manipulation task that robots do, ever.

And they’d have to, because the kinds of robots that Airbus could buy wouldn’t be able to do the things that Airbus wants them to do: The robots currently able to perform point-based tasks at accuracy demanded by Airbus processes have a bad weight/payload ratio in order to be able to resist the loads generated by the operation.

Airbus is holding a competition at ICRA 2016 where they’re hoping that teams will demonstrate small (sub-100 kg) robotic systems with modular arms that are able to accurately drill several hundred holes in a flat aluminum panel in under 60 minutes.

During the competition itself, teams will earn points based on the number of holes drilled and how accurate they are, along with a whole bunch of bonus points if their systems are able to drill “constrained” holes that are harder to reach.

A score of 700 points will put you in contention for a 20,000 euro prize, and if you send Airbus an impressive video by mid-March, there’s a chance that they’ll give you support (including funding for equipment, airfare, and accommodations) for your team to attend ICRA in Stockholm.

Meet the cobots: humans and robots together on the factory floor

In these small cells, a single employee helped by a robotic workbench assembles a virtually complete drive system that will be used to power the production of everything from cars to cola.

In this series, the FT meets the robots and talks to people already living and working with them to find out if they will be good or bad for humanity Mr Heidemann is one of a new breed of industrial employees, learning to work side by side with the latest generation of robotic systems.

Now, a lighter weight, mobile plug and play generation is arriving on the factory floor to collaborate safely with human workers thanks to advances in sensor and vision technology, and computing power.

And if the robot is needed in a different part of the factory — unlike the heavy robotic arms that populate the world’s automotive factories and are bolted to the floor — they can be easily moved.

Cobots, the name to collaborative machines such as these, are so new they account for just a fraction of global industrial robot sales: less than 5 per cent of the record 240,000 sold last year.

But manufacturers say these flexible robots — at average price of $24,000 each according to Barclays — have the potential to revolutionise production, in particular for smaller companies that account for 70 per cent of global manufacturing.

Yet with the average factory worker earning $11.80 per hour in the US and £7.40 in the UK, according to salary comparison website PayScale, a payback at these lower price levels can be a matter of months.

At Airbus, the European aircraft manufacturer, a mobile robot strapped to the side of a fuselage drills the tens of thousands of holes needed to hold a passenger jet together while humans work beside it.

Read more Automated workers: what ​every manager should know Andrew McAfee on why it is wrong to worry about robots taking over ​How robots can make it quicker to buy a house Stéphane Maillard, who for 13 years has worked on aircraft assembly, says the robot has not replaced his job.

100 per cent of our operators would never go back.” The group is testing a robot on wheels that will move around inside the aircraft to label where workers have to install brackets — a position that must be accurate to within the millimetre.

“We’re moving away from trying to maximise automation, with people taking a bigger part in industrial processes again,” says Markus Schaefer, head of production planning at the automaker.

The Impact of AI Over The Next Half Decade

For those who may find awkward the reference to “half a decade” and not the “next decade” here is why: AI is evolving at such a staggering rate that it is simply not possible to foresee what it will represent in 10 years’ time.

As Maurice Conti (Chief Innovation Officer at Telefónica Alpha and former director at Autodesk) reminded on his intervention at TEDX in February 2017, in human history the “Hunter-Gatherer” age lasted for several million years, then the Agricultural age lasted several thousand years, the Industrial age has been around for a couple of centuries now, the Information age has merely a few decades and the AI age (although the concept was drawn in the 1950s) has in fact effectively started less than half a decade ago.

Well, rest assured that won’t happen tomorrow … although it won’t take a decade either … It’s a silent revolution which is happening just as we speak and one thing we may be certain of a self-aware/ self-teaching AI will be the last thing that Humans will invent.

Year to Date there are in fact several AIs which have been developed by companies and can be used by your company, here are some examples and the edge they represent: Amy will “look” at your existing appointments plus personal preferences or constraints and exchange emails (as a human assistant) with your guest to find the most appropriate time and location for the meeting to take place.

Bill Gates takes on a straight forward approach bridging with the idea that as soon as the “algorithm” that allows humans to transform experiments into knowledge and deduction gets to AI, the overwhelming processing capacity of AI (based on computing power) will immediately create an intelligence form that exponentially exceeds the human capability to even understand it.

Meaning that, we as a species, will be faced overnight with a much intelligent entity than we could become in thousands of years (due to biological limitations) which are capable of drastically act upon both our physical and logical world, having self-conscience and free will while knowing that we bear the potential of destroying it.

Automated assembly of aircraft wings

The volume of air traffic has soared in the past few decades, and aircraft manufacturer Airbus expects to see this figure triple by 2030.

this makes it extremely difficult for assembly workers to climb through these openings in order to fit the bolts that hold the parts together and seal the joints.

This is time-consuming work that demands intensive physical effort that quickly leads to fatigue, not to mention the health risks resulting from the volatile organic compounds released by the sealing materials.

'The robot is equipped with articulated arms consisting of eight series-connected elements which allow them to be rotated or inclined within a very narrow radius in order to reach the furthest extremities of the wingbox cavities.

In total, the robot arm measures 2.5 meters in length and is capable of supporting tools weighing up to 15 kilograms in addition to its own weight.

The kinematics used to drive the robot are based on a sophisticated mechanism including an innovative gear system for which a patent application has been filed.

Breitfeld's team has therefore integrated a very small motor in each of the eight sections of the robot arm, which together are capable of generating a very high torque of up to 500 Newton-meters.

'The drive concept allows this solution to be used in any situation requiring the application of high forces and torque within a limited space,' Breitfeld says.